NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Two men and a pair of first responders were taken to the hospital Tuesday after being pulled out of Wollman Pond in Central Park.
Police also wrote the men, 19 and 20, tickets for going out on the pond. They were cited for “unlawful ice activity,” police said.
CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez reported that it was obvious from all angles, and the signs made it perfectly clear, the ice on the pond off Central Park South near Grand Army Plaza was dangerously thin. However, that didn’t stop the two men from the Bronx, who decided to venture out anyway and paid the price in more ways than one.
“We saw two guys out in the middle of the ice taking photos of each other,” witness Ali Wilmshurst told Sanchez. “The ice looked really thin and all of a sudden they both fell in.”
Wilmshurst and Patrick Killip said they were walking through the park when they saw the incident unfold around 2:15 p.m. near 60th Street and Fifth Avenue.
“It looked like they were going to both get out and then as they started getting to the edge, it started cracking more, and cracking more, and then one fell in,” Killip said.
One of the men was able to get out of the pond on his own, but the other man could not. Witnesses said he was in the water for at least 15 minutes before help arrived.
“When he first fell in, he was like scrambling trying to come out. I didn’t think he was going to make it because he just stopped moving,” Wilmshurst said.
A witness captured it all on video that was later posted to YouTube.
Police were the first to respond.
“Police officers were there throwing him a ring. They didn’t want to go out on the ice too far,” said FDNY Battalion Chief Steve Trucco. “They were throwing him the ring — they couldn’t reach him — so when they went out, they got the ring to him and that’s when the police officer went through the ice.”
That was when the FDNY arrived, and firefighters extended rescue ladders onto the ice.
Firefighter Matt Murphy slipped on a dive suit and, armed with a rescue horse collar, he delicately walked across the ice before jumping in to pull the victim out.
“He was lethargic, and not able to help too much on his own,” Murphy said.
Murphy was able to thread the collar onto the victim before rescuers on shore reeled him in. He also pulled the police officer out of the pond.
The young men were rushed into waiting ambulances, very fortunate to be alive.
The two men were treated for mild exposure at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and released. The officer and firefighter involved in the rescue were also taken to the hospital for medical observation.
Despite the dramatic rescue, CBS 2’s Sanchez reported that minutes afterward, tourists were seen venturing out onto the ice to also take pictures — an act that could likewise result in a ticket.
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